As featured on NewsNow: Football news

The Week in Women's Football: Champions League review; NWSL news; FIFA cancel age group tournaments;

This week, we finish our review of the Qualifying Round of the 2020-21 European Women's Champions League, looking at the 10 second round games on November 18 and 19. We also examine news from the NWSL, including the calendar for the 2021 season, coaching changes, the results of the expansion draft for Racing Louisville FC and news about cancellation of two major FIFA age group tournaments.

Ten Sides Move on to the Round of 32 in the 2020-21 Women's Champions League

Wednesday November 18, 2020

NSA Sofia of Bulgaria 0 vs ŽFK Spartak of Serbia 7

Home advantage was of little assistance to NSA Sofia when they met Spartak Subotica of Serbia on November 18 in the Women's Champions League second qualifying round decider as the Serbian side romped to a 7-0 win (3-0 at the half) with 24-year old Serbian international Tijana Matic (who has won 5 consecutive league titles with Spartak) scoring a hat trick. In their 10th consecutive season in the WCL, Spartak have now made the Round of 32 on 6 occasions, including the last three seasons in succession.

WFC Pomurje of Slovenia 4 vs Ferencváros of Hungary 1

Pomurje of Slovenia defeated Ferencvaros of Hungary 4-1 on November 18 with 19-year-old Slovenian international Kaja Korosec scoring a hat trick. This is Pomurje's eighth campaign in the European Club competition and only the second time they have advanced to the Round of 32 (after being bounced out by Torres of Italy 7-3 on aggregate in 2014-15).

Valur of Iceland 1 (3 PK) vs Glasgow City of Scotland 1 (4 PK)

For the second time in a week, favorites Glasgow City were pushed to the limit and advanced to the Round of 32 again only after besting their opponents on penalty kicks. Last week Peamount of Ireland fell after a scoreless tie; this time former Icelandic international Mist Edvardsdottir (30)—who has played with Valur for years and spent a short spell in Norway with Avaldsnes and Brazil with Vitoria, both in 2013, deadlocked the match in the 80th minute after Scottish international and former Notts County midfielder Leanne Crichton gave Glasgow City the lead with a goal in the 51st minute. Glasgow City has made the Round of 32 for the tenth year in succession from 14 campaigns, but this year was a battle in both games for the Scottish giants, and Peamount United and Valur should be proud of their efforts and represented their respective leagues quite well.

Górnik Łęczna of Poland 2 vs Apollon LFC of Cyprus1

If the Valur-Glasgow City game was a surprise, Gornik Leczna's 2-1 win over heavily favored Apollon was a shocking upset, particularly in the way it took place. Cypriot-American forward Krystyna Freda (who we interviewed last week, see: got things started off early for Apollon when she scored on a third minute penalty kick. Twenty-four-year-old Polish international Evelina Kamczyk tied up the match in the 81st minute on a quick shot after an error by American goalkeeper Aubrei Corder (22), who badly handled a cross and punched it weakly out into Kamczyk's path, before Apollon's English import defender Steffi Hardy deflected the ball through her own net 2 minutes late from a Emilia Zdunek (ex-Sevilla and Polish international) shot in the box. It was an even match throughout, with Gornik having the advantage in shots (17-15) and corners (6-4), and both teams even for shots on goal (6 each). This is the first time that Gornik Leczna has advanced to the Round of 32.

Anderlecht of Belgium 1 vs SL Benfica of Portugal 2

WCL debutants Benfica of Portugal also upset the form table by defeating host side Anderlecht of Belgium 2-1 on November 18. Twenty-two-year-old Belgium international Charlotte Tison scored for Anderlecht in the 55th minute but two goals from Brazilian import Nycole Raysla in the 62nd and 78th minute turned the game around as Benfica was in the lead less than 25 minutes later. Benfica is now in the Round of 32 and are the second debutant from Portugal to advance to that stage in their first season, imitating Braga from last season, who lost to Lyon 7-0 on aggregate at the same stage. Raysla (20) is a Brazilian U-20 international who transferred this past June from Minas ICESP in the capital city of Brasilia to the Portuguese side.

Thursday November 19, 2020

Gintra Universitetas of Lithuania 0 vs Vålerenga of Norway 7

Valerenga of Norway went to Lithuania and came home with a decisive 7-0 victory over Gintra Universitetas on November 19, with 23-year-old Serbian international Dejana Stefanovic (who played previously in France with ASPTT Albi before joining Valerenga for the 2019-20 season) scoring a first half brace. Valerenga had 33 shots on goal to 8 for Gintra (10-1 for shots on goal) but the two clubs were even on corners 5-5. Valerenga is now through to the round of 32 in their debut season in the Women's Champions League.

Olimpia Cluj of Romania 0 vs Lanchkhuti of Georgia 1

Lanchkhuti of Georgia was one of four road teams that won on November 19 (three did it the day before) in the second WCL qualifying round deciders, with their lone goal coming from 31-year-old Georgian international forward Khatia Chkonia (who played with clubs in Turkey for a decade) 22 minutes from the end. Chkonia also scored the only goals in their first round qualifying 2-1 win over Okzhetpes of Kazakhstan, also on the road. Like Valerenga, Lanchkuti is through to the Round of 32 in their first WCL season. Cluj made the Round of 16 in 2012-13 and is a regular in the Round of 32, so that was quite a success for the Georgia side.

SFK 2000 Sarajevo of Bosnia and Herzegovina 0 vs WFC-2 Kharkiv of Ukraine 2

Kharkiv of Ukraine defeated SFK 2000 of Sarajevo 2-0 on the road on November 19. Natiya Pantsulaya (9th minute) and Roksolana Kravchuk (29th minute) scored within the first half hour to send Kharkiv onto the next round. Pantsulaya has played at ALG Spor in Turkey and spent 6 months with Atletico Madrid in Spain in the 2019-20 season but saw no league game action, while Kravchuk is 23 and has played for Ukraine at the full and U-19 and U-17 levels. Kharkiv participated in the 2017-18 WCL in their only other appearance and this will be their first time in the Round of 32.

Vllaznia of Albania 0 vs FC Minsk of Belarussia 3

Minsk defeated Vllzania 3-0 in Sarajevo in the 2015-16 qualifying stage, and repeated the trick on November 19, 2020 with a 2-0 victory. Minsk made the Round of 16 last season. Minsk's scorers were 17-year-old Anna Sas (33'), who was on the senior side during Belarus' 1-0 loss to Northern Ireland in the EUROS Qualifiers in October, and 28-year-old Belarusian international Anastasia Kharlanova (84').

St. Pölten of Austria 1 vs CSKA Moskva of Russia 0

In an interesting match, St. Polten of Austria was the only one of five home sides to win on November 19, using a penalty kick goal from Austrian international Jasmine Eder (her second in two WCL games this season). St. Polten advanced to the Round of 32 for the sixth straight year.

CSKA Moskva fell short of the Round of 32 in their debut WCL campaign, but they will be a side to watch in the future as they have already repeated as league champions at home and will be in the 2021-22 competition.

The above ten sides will be joined by the following 22, who had byes to the Round of 32 based on the UEFA coefficient system for league success in past competitions:

PSV Eindhoven—Netherlands


Lyon—France (holders)
Paris Saint-Germain—France
Bayern München—Germany
Manchester City—England
Slavia Praha—Czech Republic
Atlético Madrid—Spain
Fortuna Hjørring—Denmark
LSK Kvinner—Norway
Sparta Praha—Czech Republic

Another positive feature of the 2019-20 Women's Champions League Qualifiers is that all of the 30 games were held with no postponements because of COVID-19—quite an achievement for UEFA.


NWSL Announces Playing Format and Plan for 2021

The NWSL announced that team training camps will start on February 1, 2021—the earliest start in league history—with the NWSL Challenge Cup starting in mid-April (the second edition of the extremely successful event held in Utah this past summer as the league was the first professional sports league in North America to re-start playing after the COVID-19 shutdown in March and did not have a single player testing positive for the virus during the event, while drawing record television viewing ratings). In 2021, the league will attempt to stage the Cup matches in league cities, likely in a regional pod format as with the Fall Series. The Challenge Cup will give U.S. and Canadian national team players game time before the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan, which were delayed until the summer of 2021. The regular season schedule with start in mid-May, with each team playing 24 matches plus a six team playoff format (up from 4 in previous years). The Championship final will be held over the weekend of November 20.

Amy LePeilbet Continues at Interim Head Coach at Utah Royals

U.S. international Amy LePeilbet will continue as interim head coach of the Utah Royals of the NWSL for the foreseeable future; the Royals finished the 2020 Fall Series tied for eighth place with only 2 points from 2 ties in 4 games. We talked last month about the turmoil at the Royals (see: when at the start of the Fall Series, new head coach Craig Harrington—who was hired earlier this year to replace Laura Harvey who left to head up the U.S. U-20 Women's National Team—was suspended while an investigation into some sexually inappropriate comments that he was alleged to have made was conducted. Harrington has now been terminated. His assistant, Louis Lancaster was also suspended at the time but has returned to the club in his previous coaching role. The club said in a release, "Utah Royals FC is proud to represent the state of Utah nationally and across the globe. Utah Royals FC takes this responsibility seriously, and have committed to keeping the community and its fans appraised of team developments. After careful review and consideration, the Club has decided to part ways with head coach Craig Harrington. Amy LePeilbet will continue as Interim Head Coach until further notice. As Coach LePeilbet has already demonstrated, she is well-positioned to serve in this interim role and embodies the club's dedication to the highest standards of conduct, civility, and professionalism."

Washington Spirit's Scottish Goalkeeping Coach Leaves for Everton

Ian McCaldon, the Washington Spirit's goalkeepers coach for the past two seasons, has left the club to take a similar position at FA WSL side Everton. He joined the Spirit after five seasons at the goalkeepers coach with the Scotland's Women's National Team. Spirit head coach Richie Burke said, "I'm slowly getting over Ian's departure to Everton because losing a great goalkeeper coach was one thing, but losing a really close friend was entirely another! He was tasked when joining our club with making Aubrey [Bledsoe] the best goalkeeper in the league and getting her into the USWNT program, both of which he achieved in one short season. Ian was magnificent during his time with the Spirit and I know he was a very popular figure with other Technical Staff throughout the league. I'm sure Aubrey and the rest of our players will miss him dearly. I know I will. We wish him the very best in his move back across the pond and hope he gets to spend more time with his two young sons, which I know was a huge factor in his decision to return to the U.K.."

Racing Louisville FC makes selections in the 2020 NWSL Expansion Draft

In a phenomena common among North American sports leagues when they expand,

Racing Louisville FC—the tenth team in NWSL for 2021—was allowed to select players from current team franchises. Louisville could choose up to two players, or one U.S. Allocated Player, from each NWSL team, and a total of two U.S. Allocated Players in total from all teams. The one exception was the Chicago Red Stars, who uniquely in the weeks before the event, sent forwards Yuki Nagasato (Japanese international) and Savannah McCaskill (U.S. international) to Louisville in exchange for full roster protection in the expansion draft, so that none of their players were selected. Some important rules for the draft included:

Teams may protect up to two (2) U.S. Allocated Players on their rosters, who could not be selected in the expansion draft. All additional U.S. Allocated Players on a team's roster must be left Unprotected, or eligible to be selected.

Teams are permitted to protect a total of eleven (11) Players/U.S. Allocated Players, which may include up to two (2) U.S. Allocated Players. All other Players and other U.S. Allocated Players must be Unprotected.

Individuals on the Discovery List of any team are not eligible to be selected in the Expansion Draft.

In addition, Katherine Reynolds (Portland), Jaelene Daniels (North Carolina), Rebecca Tweed (Sky Blue FC, who played in Bristol and Millwall in her native England and is now an assistant coach at Sky Blue FC) and Nadine Angerer (Portland and a former German international who has been an assistant coach for the Thorns for some years) have announced their retirement and their playing rights currently remain with their most recent NWSL club.

The list of each team's protected and draft eligible players were:


Protected Players

Jane Campbell

Allysha Chapman (CAN Allocated)

Rachel Daly (International—England)

Shea Groom

Haley Hanson

Veronica Latsko

Kristie Mewis

Katie Naughton

Megan Oyster

Nichelle Prince (CAN Allocated)

Sophie Schmidt (CAN Allocated)


Protected Players

Abby Dahlkemper (US Allocated)

Debora De Oliveira (International—Brazil)

Abby Erceg (International—New Zealand)

Kristen Hamilton

Hallie Mace

Merritt Mathias

Jessica McDonald

Casey Murphy

Denise O'Sullivan (International—Republic of Ireland)

Lynn Williams

Samantha Mewis (US Allocated, Playing Rights)


Protected Players

Claire Emslie (International—Scotland)

Taylor Kornieck

Sydney Leroux

Phoebe McClernon (College Protected)

Jade Moore (International—England)

Alex Morgan (US Allocated, Playing Rights)

Courtney Petersen

Ali Riley

Emily Sonnett (US Allocated, Playing Rights)

Marta Vieira da Silva (International—Brazil)

Marisa Viggiano


Protected Players

Simone Charley

Crystal Dunn (US Allocated)

Lindsey Horan (US Allocated)

Kelli Hubly

Meghan Klingenberg

Natalia Kuikka (International—Finland)

Emily Menges

Raquel Rodriguez (International—Costa Rica)

Christine Sinclair (CAN Allocated)

Sophia Smith

Morgan Weaver


Protected Players

Bethany Balcer

Lauren Barnes

Amber Brooks

Jess Fishlock

Sofia Huerta

Darian Jenkins

Rose Lavelle (US Allocated, Playing Rights)

Allie Long (US Allocated)

Kristen McNabb

Yuka Momiki

Leah Pruitt


Protected Players

Imani Dorsey

Nahomi Kawasumi (International—Japan)

Amanda McGlynn

Paige Monaghan

Ifeoma Onumonu

Mallory Pugh (US Allocated)

Margaret Purce

Kailen Sheridan (CAN Allocated)

Evelyne Viens (International—Canadian)

Sarah Woldmoe

McCall Zerboni


Protected Players

Elizabeth Ball

Kate Bowen

Rachel Corsie

Kate Del Fava

Tziarra King

Lo'eau Labonta

Kelley O'Hara (US Allocated)

Amy Shilling

Abigail Smith

Michele Vasconcelos

Gabrielle Vincent


Protected Players

Dorian Bailey

Aubrey Bledsoe

Jordan DiBiasi

Bayley Feist

Ashley Hatch

Tori Huster

Tegan McGrady

Paige Nielsen

Ashley Sanchez

Sam Staab

Andi Sullivan

On November 12, with their first pick, Racing Louisville FC selected rookie defender Addisyn Merrick from the North Carolina Courage. Merrick was drafted 28th overall in the 2020 NWSL College Draft and started eight of North Carolina's nine matches this season. The University of Kansas alum led all Courage rookie players in minutes played in 2020. Louisville also selected midfielder Lauren Milliet from North Carolina who made her first pro start at the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup. She started in all four NWSL Fall Series matches for the Courage, earning her first career assist against Orlando on October 17.

Other additions to Racing's inaugural roster were 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup Champions Erin Simon and Cece Kizer from the Houston Dash, and the rights to Australian international forwards Caitlin Foord and Alanna Kennedy from the Orlando Pride. Foord is playing full-time with Arsenal while Kennedy is currently on loan at Tottenham until the end of the year. Louisville strengthened their defense by selecting goalkeepers Katie Lund from the Washington Spirit and Michelle Betos from OL Reign, with the latter named as the league's Goalkeeper of the Year in 2015. Julia Ashley also was selected from the Reign and she has played with Linkopings of Sweden and Adelaide United in Australia for short stints since turning pro in 2019. Forward Katie McClure was selected by the Washington Spirit and is another ex-University of Kansas player.

Jennifer Cudjoe (26) is a Ghanaian international who appeared in nine matches, with seven starts, for Sky Blue across all 2020 competitions after being signed to the team following an open tryout this year. Kaleigh Riehl (24) was drafted by Sky Blue with the 11th pick in the 2020 NWSL College Draft. She appeared in one match for Sky Blue in the 2020 Challenge Cup, earning a start for her professional debut against Utah Royals FC.

Racing also used player picks in order to gain the playing rights to U.S. Women's National Team forwards Tobin Heath from Portland Thorns FC and Christen Press from Utah Royals FC. Both Heath and Press are currently playing for Manchester United Women of the FA Women's Super League through the 2020-2021 season. With these final two selections of U.S. Allocated Players, both Utah and Portland will each receive a $75,000 allocation money grant. Reports are that Heath may return to the Thorns at some point (via a formal request for a trade) while Press could be utilized in a trade with the new Los Angeles-based Angel City FC NWSL side, which is coming in for the 2022 season. Angel City FC recently announced that it will play at MLS LA FC's home at Banc of California Stadium, which can hold 22,000 fans.

2020 Racing Louisville NWSL Expansion Draft Picks (in the order of selection)

Addisyn Merrick (D, NC Courage)
Julia Ashley (D, OL Reign)
Jennifer Cudjoe (M, Sky Blue FC)
Cece Kizer (F, Houston)
Katie Lund (GK, Washington)
Alanna Kennedy (D, Orlando)
Lauren Milliet (M, NC Courage)
Kaleigh Riehl (D, Sky Blue FC)
Caitlin Foord (F, Orlando)
Katie McClure (F, Washington)
Erin Simon (D, Houston)
Michelle Betos (GK, OL Reign)
Tobin Heath (M, Portland)
Christen Press (F, Utah)

FIFA Permanently Cancels the 2020 U-20 and U-17 Women's World Cup

The 2020 FIFA U-20 and U-17 Women's World Cups, which were moved to 2021 earlier this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, have been cancelled. The U-20 WWC was to be held in Costa Rica and Panama while the U-17's were to be held in India. For the 2022 events at both age levels, Costa Rica will host the U-20's and India again will stage the U-17's. Though the move was done because of COVID-19 and safety of players, officials and fans as the first priority, it still is a detriment to the develop of the youth national teams, particularly since the CONCACAF and UEFA U-17 regional championships were never held this year, plus other friendly games and tournaments were lost.

Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribal Football. His latest book Beyond Bend it Like Beckham on the global game of women's football. Get your copy today.

Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimGrainey

Tim Grainey
About the author

Tim Grainey

Have your say

Subscribe and go ad-free

For only $10 a year

  1. Go Ad-Free
  2. Faster site experience
  3. Support great writing
  4. Subscribe now
Launch Offer: 2 months free

Subscribe and go ad-free

For only $10 a year

Subscribe now
Launch Offer: 2 months free